Fresh off the back of dropping his ‘London Nights E.P’ on 20/20 Vision, we caught up with the enigmatic London based producer ‘DOKTA’ to discuss the inspiration behind the release, his forth coming album ‘Metronomic’ and more, with ‘DOKTA’ offering up an exclusive mix of top notch leftfield selections.
So you’ve just released your next instalment on 20/20 with London Nights, what was the inspiration behind the record?
Haha, funny story actually. It's quite long so I'll break it down in the best possible way I can without omitting any of the love and craziness that was about that time. London Nights comes in 2 parts, Part A: 'An English Cottage' and Part B: 'London Nights'. One day my neighbour Anna walked in, and in the drunkest voice possible she said "I want to go sing" so I put her in the booth and recorded the voice that lays the foundation of what was to become London Nights. 3 years later I was working on a London sounding thing and remembered the vocals, so rushed to pull it in. Before you ask Anna (talking voice) didn't do the animal sounds. That was Natasha, she can actually sing. So you can imagine when Natasha asked me if she could try something. There I was like "YES A PROPER SINGER"".
The sounds ended really work well in my opinion, at the time I realised that If you listen carefully, it sort of seems like the talking lady is having a conversation with her inter dimensional pet or a visiting alien, giving it a tour of London at night. So I just went with that. The whole album is full of nuances like that, title special moments that made it all worthwhile. Added by the fact that I saw potential in including An English Cottage. A few reasons for this that I won't go into, I just thank Miles & Hosszu for having faith in my vision and allowing me the rights to use it. After all, it was all done at my studio and nothing else was going to happen to that track (apart from sitting on shelf gathering dust) so why not use it? At least it gets out there for the world to hear.
Do you have a studio process when working on a track?
I follow a couple of rules, rule number 1 - never make music in a computer.
The writing part; rule number 2 - use the MPC 4000+ as your main machine, sequencer and master clock.
Rule number 3 - when all parts are ready, you record them into your DAW and treating it like a multi-track tape machine, like we did in good ol' days. Basically this way you're forced to do your arrangements live, which adds another dimension to the music. It's electronic but it 'FEELS' like it's live.
Are there any particular records that inspired you to get into production?
Not really, not one record that I can be specific about. For me it was a life long fascination with music. Playing, listening to, watching my brother spin records in the mid 80's when I didn't have a fucking clue what he was even doing. Looked like fun though. He dragged me to all of his blues piano lessons. Every Saturday I'd have to go and sit and watch, and he wasn't even a bad player, but what is an 8 year old kid gona do in a piano room having to sit still and behave. Nope, I jumped on the piano, the percussion, the typewriter. You name it I hit it, but I didn't know why I was doing that. Just need to do it I suppose.
Your recent live streaming series shows an impressive live set up, can you talk us through what this entails?
So it took me a year to put together, then Ralph & Bobby from 2020 and Phil from Little Big came to a gig. It was at that showcase that I realised I needed a 16 out sound card (had to be UAD) and a desk that can handle the 16 channels from the computer, with all the outputs from the individual pieces of hardware that I also utilise. I couldn’t do much without sorting those 2 things out. Now, 2 months leading up to album launch and I’m still trying to find the funds to finance the flight cases and cables to be built. Currently it's a bit like spaghetti junction and needs to be neater for the upcoming gigs. So it's on gong, never a dull moment that's for sure.
With your forth-coming album (Metronomic) due out on 20/20, was there a concept behind creating the album?
Was there? Really? No one told me. I mean all I was thinking of is just making some music and whilst making this album I came to realise that I am as good as my peers, if not better. I spent most of my musical career having to rely on others to finish things off, mix things, program and arrange them. I had to have people around because deep down I felt inferior and not as talented as I may have wished I was. I had to change that. So yeah I suppose there is a underlying concept that came from me proving to myself that I was wrong, that I am capable and I can make something for myself in this game, doing it my way, with my rules.
How would you define your sound?
I can't really. It's basically all of my favourite types of music mashed into 1 sound. The album itself does represent this and I feel I have achieved a life long goal. To play music, play it good, play it by my hand, produced by my hand, performed live by my hand and ultimately not let anyone else influence my choices and my reasoning’s. Also I got this real issue in life, if it's working then leave it, if it's not working work out then why, and if so, do something that does work, no matter what it takes. Sometimes this means leaving tracks alone for a year or 2 before you finally complete them. This album took me just under 5 years from start to finish.
What else have you been up to outside your releases on 20/20?
Making more music for my 2nd album, rebuilding my studio after having to move again for the 3rd time in 4 years, focusing on the DOKTA live set, getting my fingers back on form with playing keys, not really practiced much over the past few years and I’ve also been studying music theory a lot recently. In addition I launched a new venture hiring out my services as a mix engineer to other people in this industry which has started to pickup nicely.